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Fractal Sextet

Fractal Sextet

Review by Gary Hill

I've reviewed several releases from Stephan Thelen, and this new project of his is not far removed musically from the kind of thing he does solo. This time, though, he comes to us with an actual band. The other members of the group are Fabio Anile, Jon Durant, Colin Edwin, Yogev Gabay and Andi Pupato. The music here is instrumental and works in territory ranging between King Crimson-like prog, fusion, space rock and more. It's all strong, and all the tracks are on the longer side.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Zeptoscope
I love the low register element to this as it gets underway. The track moves forward with layers of space music over the top of a rather King Crimson-like rhythm section. A section dominated by piano later has a real fusion edge. The cut continues to grow and evolve from there with some cool Frippian guitar work dancing over the top at times. Don't get too comfortable anywhere because this continues to change as it drives forward. There are some particularly powerful passages further down the musical road.
Fractal 5.7
There is a great fusion groove and vibe to this number at the onset. They build on that with style. While this doesn't have as many changes and variants as the opener does, it certainly doesn't stay in one place. It's another potent piece of music.
Planet Nine
I dig the fusion-like groove on this number a lot. This thing has some killer instrumental work. I love the guitar on this, but everything about it screams "class."
Mise En Abyme
This is one of the real epic pieces of the set. As such it has plenty of room for exploration, and they make good use of that time. There are space rock vibes here. It also has plenty of things that call to mind acts ranging from Tangerine Dream to Synergy and more.
Slow Over Fast
More driving and hard rocking, this one comes in closer to King Crimson type territory. It has some seriously screaming hot portions. This is another of the more extensive pieces. It is also one of the most dynamic, covering quite a bit of territory, including a much mellower dropped back section.

 

 
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